Let’s Play: Dust off your old controllers and blow in the cartridges

Geek, Off The Vine

It doesn’t matter if it’s board, mobile, video, role-playing, or card — games are a way to bring people together, to learn and hone new skills, and to collaborate on elaborate world building. They are for first dates, family fun nights, team-building, or any other social gathering. It can’t be denied there’s a game culture thriving right here in the Fraser Valley.

So what are we playing? With so many ways to play, it can be daunting to pick up and learn a new game. We’re here to help you along as we play new games, or discover classic favourites. We’ll even tell you where you might find these games to play yourself.

Except don’t actually blow into the cartridges, because despite us all doing it in our youth, it’s pretty terrible for your games.

This month I took a trip down nostalgia lane with my people and plugged in the old NES & SNES. It was a night filled with one player games, no save points, and dying. Lots of dying.
We started in 1994 with Disney’s Lion King for SNES.

The main question coming out of this game is: why is it so hard?

It’s a straightforward platformer with Simba navigating the main plot points from the story. He starts as a cub in the Pridelands, hops off giraffe heads, and survives a stampede before eventually growing up and facing off with Scar.

At least, I assume that’s where it goes. We found ourselves drowning in ankle-deep water after repeatedly missing a rhino’s tail while trying to climb the pyramid of African animals in level 2: “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”

On a scale of one to impossible, this game ranks pretty high. Even the eight lives and three continues you start out with isn’t enough to make up for all the times Simba misses that damn tail.
Next we decided to go with something less challenging but only slightly.

Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 for NES, released in 1991.

In this game you control 8 bits of bug stomping, rainbow producing magic. Bubby, your character, moves through a top scrolling platformer attempting to spell the word Rainbow by turning enemies into diamonds with his rainbows.

With one touch death and a limited number of lives, coupled with the ever present threat of a rising tide, this simple retro game quickly becomes challenging as you move to higher levels.
This game’s replay value comes from the fact that in 25 years not one of my people has managed to beat it.

Retro games are an excellent way to bring people together for a night of nostalgia and low-stakes game play. See how much muscle memory comes back when you stomp goombas in Super Mario Bros. Play-the-winner in an all out tournament of Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Google Mario Kart 64 drinking game and remember to not drink and drive. When it comes to retro games, the value is in how much you still love them 20 to 30 years later.

Check out Willow Video Games in Abbotsford or Game-Bit in Mission to find titles you may have forgotten about.